Dijen Basu and Dan Hobbs represent Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Safeguarding Children Board, respectively, at an inquest concerning the drowning of 3 small children by their mother
In the early hours of 15th April 2013, Fiona Anderson, a heavily pregnant 23 year old mother from Lowestoft, drowned her three small children in the bath at her home after wounding her ex-partner (the father of the children). Tragically, she wrote messages of love on the hallway wall, on herself and on each of the children, who she put into a bed with their teddy bears. She was then seen walking around the town centre, clutching a teddy bear, before jumping from the eighth floor of a multi storey car park. Police later found a torn up letter in which Ms. Anderson expressed the fear that her children would be taken into care.
The family were known to Suffolk Social Services and a serious case review found a number of learning points, in relation to how social services deal with ‘avoidant’ parents who are strongly resistant to outside intervention, but that no-one could have foreseen the final tragedy. Whilst there had been concerns about the parenting abilities of the young family since the birth of the first child in 2009, there had never been any suggestion of abuse or self harm.
In recording his conclusion that the three children were unlawfully killed and that Ms. Anderson had committed suicide, HM Senior Coroner for Suffolk, Dr. Peter Dean, accepted that no-one could have foreseen this tragedy and that Suffolk County Council had put into practice the learning points identified. He stated that he will make a report to the Minister for Care and the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to Regulation 28 of the Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013, to help disseminate the lessons learned in Suffolk in relation to (i) dealing with hard to engage and avoidant families and (ii) encouraging broader interaction with mental health services.